Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

What's wrong with this news story?

From an Associated Press report in the Guardian:

First paragraph:
A Muslim cleric formerly held at Guantanamo Bay prison said Tuesday that U.S. guards there regularly desecrated the Quran by putting it into a toilet, although he added he never witnessed it himself.
Paragraphs 3-6:
Vakhitov said at a news conference organized by the state RIA-Novosti news agency that guards in Cuba threw the Quran in the toilet. However, he later told The Associated Press he did not witness the actions.

"A Palestinian named Mahir, who was in a neighboring cell, had seen it and told me about that,'' Vakhitov told the AP. "Many other people in Guantanamo also told me about that.''

A spokesman at U.S. Southern Command in Miami, which oversees the prison, declined to comment on Vakhitov's specific allegations. But an investigation released last month showed "no Qurans are flushed down the toilet at Guantanamo,'' said Lt. Col. Jim Marshall.

The investigation, however, disclosed five instances in which U.S. guards mishandled the Quran.
Eighth & Ninth paragraphs:
Vakhitov said that when he was held by U.S. forces at Kandahar, Afghanistan, he personally saw Qurans desecrated there.

"In Kandahar, they tore up copies of the Quran and even put it in a bucket of feces,'' he said.
Twelfth (and last) paragraph:
A statement from Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Flex Plexico also did not address Vakhitov's specific allegations but said "it is important to note that al-Qaida training manuals emphasize the tactic of making false abuse allegations.''
By the way, this same Airat Vakhitov wrote to his mother, Amina Hasanova, while he was in prison at Gitmo, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty quoted his mom in an August 2003 story:
Hasanova said she learned of [Vakhitov's] fate after receiving a letter from him last November. She said her son is feeling well and is satisfied with the conditions of his detention at Guantanamo. "He writes that he is treated kindly and with respect, that he has good food, cleanliness, and as he says in his letter, he feels better than if he was at the best Russian sanatoriums," Hasanova said. Vakhitov's mother said he also writes that his fellow detainees are friendly toward him, and that they often lend each other copies of the Koran and pray together.
So what's wrong with the story? 1) Al-Qaeda prisoners routinely lie about conditions, but that tidbit appeared at the very end of the story, after every allegation of American wrongdoing could be listed. 2) A blogger did more homework than the AP writer to prove this prisoner was, at best, changing his story a bit.

Media bias? Nah.

(HT: Alendalux via BOTW)


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